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Digital Twin Technology – How It Is Transforming The Manufacturing Industry

The transition from traditional CNC machine tool systems to Industry 4.0 in the machine tool manufacturing sector is vital for unlocking higher productivity, cost optimization and progress towards sustainability. That’s where the capabilities of digital twin technology come in.

What is digital twin technology?

A digital twin is a computerized or virtual copy of something real—an object, a person, or a process. In manufacturing, these replicas can be used to imagine various situations and understand what could be the possible outcomes, in order to make more informed and smarter decisions. 

Digital twin: a quick history

The idea of digital twin started in 1991, with a book called ‘Mirror Worlds’ by David Gelernter. Later, Michael Grieves applied this idea to manufacturing. In 2002, Grieves talked about the digital twin concept at a conference in Michigan. 

However, it was NASA that started using the digital twin concept. In 2010, John Vickers of NASA gave it the name “digital twin.” They used it to make digital simulations of space capsules and craft for testing.

In 2017, a company called Gartner said that digital twins were one of the top 10 strategic technology trends. Since then, digital twin technology has been adapted and applied in many different industries and processes.

How does digital twin technology work?

In digital twins, the virtual computer model stays connected to the real world through sensors. These sensors collect data from the actual object or process, allowing the digital version to mirror and simulate real-time activities. This provides insights into performance and identifies any potential problems. The amount of data determines how accurately the model reflects the real-world counterpart.

Types of digital twins

Digital twin technology can be used for various purposes. For instance, it can be used to create a product twin — a representation of a product at various stages, from its concept to engineering to functionality. Or the technology can be used to create a manufacturing facility twin, representing an entire production plant. Digital twin technology is also used to create supply chain twins or infrastructure twins. All these digital twins help generate live, real-time data. 

Benefits of digital-twin technology in machine tool manufacturing 

The advantages of utilizing digital twin technology are diverse and depend on the specific context of its application. In this section we list some of the benefits of digital twin technology.

Prototyping and design

Digital twin technology helps manufacturers to create virtual duplicates of machine tools before their physical creation. This enables testing and prototyping within a virtual environment, providing engineers with the ability to pinpoint and address potential issues before the commencement of actual production.

Performance monitoring

Monitoring of machine tool performance is essential for sustaining efficiency and reducing unforeseen downtime. Digital twin technology enables manufacturers to continuously monitor its performance metrics. This proactive monitoring helps identify issues, enabling predictive maintenance measures and mitigating the risk of expensive breakdowns.

Improved production efficiency

Digital twin technology helps improve production processes by offering insights into the interaction among different components within the manufacturing ecosystem. This includes monitoring machine utilization, and production output, among other factors. This helps optimize operations, remove bottlenecks, and enhance overall efficiency, resulting in more productivity and lesser operational costs. 

Precision and quality assurance

Digital twin technology enables analysis and simulation of machining processes, offering accuracy. This leads to superior quality products. This not only helps with precision but also to reduce costs.

Cost reduction

The use of digital twin in prototyping prior to manufacturing helps in minimizing product defects and expediting time-to-market

Digital twins and environmental sustainability

Digital twins of products help in enhancing sustainability initiatives. Digital twins can help minimize the material footprint in a product’s design. For example, manufacturers can reduce waste or the material used. Additionally, it helps with product traceability, enabling a more sustainable approach to manufacturing and consumption.

Digital twin use cases in manufacturing companies

Traditional manufacturing companies striving for digital transformation, can integrate digital twin technology in multiple ways across processes. The technology can be adapted and applied in various industries to address specific requirements.

  • Product life cycle: digital representation of physical products
  • Manufacturing: digital representation of processes and operations, entire manufacturing plants, supply chain, and infrastructure
  • Smart factory: integration of shop floor activities with AI, automation and wireless functions
  • Industry 4.0: Industry 4.0 technologies, such as IoT and advanced analytics help enhance digital twins

How do BFW and m2nxt use digital twins?

As an instance, we have our own Operations Dashboard at Plant 3 which indicates status of machines online by twinning the physical status. This dashboard is used by all ROs at their respective locations to view their machines & take actions accordingly. 

The entire machine building process is also twinned online which showcases the various stages of build, the operator working on that stage and the data corresponding to it.  


Digital twin technology represents a dynamic bridge between the physical and digital spaces. It allows manufacturing companies with a robust toolset for optimization, innovation, and effective competition in today’s dynamic business landscape. If you’d like to know more about our digital twin technology capability and how we can help your manufacturing company, reach out to our experts.

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